Cafe Leandra Exclusives

Summer tops that aren’t a button down

by Leandra Medine Cohen
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The easiest way to cover yourself up when it’s hot is with a button-down shirt. Could be short sleeve, could be long sleeve — it’s a great compliment to tiny shorts, a no-brainer pairing for lightweight trousers, the right proportion for a straight skirt, and basically serves as a beach jacket when worn with a swimsuit.

When you don’t want to wear a button-down shirt, there’s always a t-shirt or tank, which is usually cotton, so will absorb your sweat, but these can seem a little more casual. It’s good when you want that, or if you’re wearing trousers and a belt but if you’re not into sweaty thighs and the impossible-to-iron-out creases that perpetrate your nice pants in the summer but do still want to feel more put together, what should you wear?

I’ve been asked this question at least 3 times over the last week — and according to what’s available on the internet, factoring in how hot it is and taking into consideration casual bottoms: lightweight cotton skirts, tiny shorts, big shorts, beach-style pants or those that are more utilitarian, these are the best ones I found.

Gisele Embellished Cotton and Silk-Blend Shirt
$205 USD

Why it’s good: It’s a lightweight blend of cotton and silk that will be breathable, especially with that open, airy neckline. Not to mention the bolo tie gives the elegant shade of ivory a bit of edge. And it’s on sale

Wear it with: Cotton beach pants like these or tucked into high waist shorts with fisherman shoes.

Ruffled Lyocell Shirt
$40 USD

Why it’s good: It’s familiar to the extent of its button-down nature, but zestier what with the cut-off sleeves and the array of ruffles that cascade down

Wear it with: Knit shorts and ballet flats, high waist blue jeans and flip flops, the aforementioned beach pants

Ana Twisted Silk-Satin Top
$328 USD

Why’s it good: By the rule of exposed variables theory (that thing where you consider your collarbones, knees and toes and agree that showing all 3 doesn’t look right, so you commit to concealing 1-2:3 when you are getting dressed), this top affords you plenty of flexibility as far as bottoms and shoes. Plus, it’s long! Sometimes it’s nice when a top covers your ass.

Wear it with: cropped khakis, bike shorts, wide leg linen pants and you know what? It will be great in the fall as a dress with tights and knee high flat boots.

Wales Bonner
Vision Macrame-Fringed Cotton-Linen Top
$548 USD

Why it’s good: Is it redundant to explain? Grace Wales Bonner is the kind of designer who puts so much heart and soul into her clothes that you can’t help feel hugged when you’re dressed in it, and this top in partic is the kind that gets you excited to go into your closet in the morning. It’s airy and light, so will keep you cool, but not at all flimsy — can hold its own styled into whatever you choose. The simplest way to put it though really is such that it’s effortless but doesn’t look like a lack of effort. ,

Wear it with: wide leg pants, bermuda shorts, a mini skirt, a bathing suit bottom…

Clemente Top
$199 USD

Why it’s good: Because it’s an unconventional choice to pair with city garments such as those you might choose to wear to work. Plus, it’s not that unfamiliar as it almost, but not quite, buttons down…

Wear it with: I’ll get to it with… 👇🏻

Brown & Off-White Diamond Shirt
$520 USD

Why it’s good: It’s completely see-through! Will keep you cool 10/10 in more ways than one. Like I think this shirt could probably get you a table at the hottest resto in town

Wear it with: A white bra or tank under, or a silk slip dress; high-waist bike-style shorts (or go full underwear!), elastic waist boxer shorts and wedge slides.

You know what? I have one more crochet recommendation, but it is not at all practical.

Web Crocheted Cotton Top
$89 USD

It’s Diotima’s skimpy crochet tank or conservative bra depending on how you see it. On sale now for $89 and I’m roping it in because I think I am going to get it. Planning to wear with high waist black shorts or khaki bermudas and a white button down styled over as a shacket. Will probably insert inside a suit at some point in the early fall too.

The Sculpted Vest
$495 USD

Why it’s good: it’s shapely — like holds its own and holds you in, offers a sense of put togetherness and doesn’t require or desire any fussing. Easy to pair clothes with and you don’t have to work for the look. It styles itself.

Wear it with: A mid-length straight skirt like this or this or styled over something cotton and a-line, khaki bermudas

Loulou Studio
Striped Vest Top
$162 USD

Why it’s good: The truest alternative to a button-down. Ideal for when you need to look put together for work or something and it’s too hot for clothes.

Wear it with: A voluminous mid-length skirt…I also love this vest from Cos for $250👇🏻

Dries Van Noten
Navy Scoop Neck Tank Top
$98 USD

Why it’s good: It’s a cotton tank! But nicer…

Wear it with: Anything, really. A mid-length skirt, high waist cropped pants (plus belt), boxer shorts, your b-suit…

A few wild cards that might speak to you:

Fringed Hem Top
$28 USD

Why it’s good: I think this one is my favorite of the bunch — it’s black, which makes it versatile, but unique to the extent of its silhouette (one shoulder) and funfare (fringe!)

Wear it with:
Wear it with any elastic waist pants, long line shorts, or a midi skirt like this. Another option that fuses practicality and funfare in the same vein…👇🏻

Acne Studios
One-shoulder Grain de Poudre and Satin Vest
$329 USD

Why it’s good: Because it’s like a perfect crossover on the venn diagram of knows how to party and be professional.

Wear it with:
White cotton pants like these or these. I might even suggest you tuck them into these

An eye feasting finale:

Evie Printed Ruffled Top
$103 USD
Kristen feather-trimmed strapless top
$269 USD

Signing off yours,